Pro-life Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) fell under fire this week after Tea Party organization FreedomWorks PAC announced he would be a target of their 2012 campaign efforts. Hoping to oust Hatch in the upcoming Republican primary, the organization has doubts over Hatch’s conservative credentials. However, on the issue of abortion, Hatch’s pro-life record on abortion is indisputable.
Senator Hatch is currently in his 6th term in the US Senate, making him one of the highest-ranking members of Congress. Hatch also serves on the critically important Senate Judiciary Committee, directly affecting the appointment of Supreme Court nominees. Hatch has been instrumental in installing pro-life justices like Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts. He also vigorously defended pro-life nominee Robert Bork, who was selected by Ronald Reagan but whose appointment ultimately failed to garner the necessary Senate votes. Hatch was outspoken against the nomination of pro-abortion nominees Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
During the 1980’s, when many in the pro-life movement believed the way to restore legal protection to unborn children was through a constitutional amendment, Hatch led the way, offering the Hatch Amendment, which would have had the effect of overturning Roe vs. Wade. (The strategy ultimately failed and the pro-life movement revamped itself by adopting a more incremental approach, an approach that has significantly decreased the number of abortions and saved millions of lives.)
Hatch has voted in favor of every major effort against abortion since his election to the US Senate. He has voted to ban partial-birth abortions, to declare an unborn child a victim when a violent crime is committed against a pregnant mother, to prevent US taxpayer funding of abortions overseas and to deny tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. Hatch has also been at the forefront of the effort to repeal the pro-abortion Obama healthcare law. He has also consistently opposed so-called campaign finance reform like McCain-Feingold and the failed DISCLOSE Act, both of which seek to limit the speech of grassroots organizations, like right to life groups, regarding politicians and their records.
Most recently, Senator Hatch orchestrated a letter, signed by 27 members of the US Senate, to Obama’s Medicaid Administrator Donald Berwick in defense of Indiana’s newly enacted state law banning taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Fighting against Obama Administration efforts to interfere with Indiana’s law, Hatch and his pro-life colleagues earned the praise of pro-life organizations.
Hatch’s only pro-life missteps in his lengthy career came when he supported the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 and a bill in 2006 to overturn President Bush’s pro-life policy on embryonic stem cell research.
In 2010, Utah Republican primary voters ousted pro-life Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) in favor of pro-life Tea Party candidate Mike Lee, who was considered by some to be more conservative. On abortion, Bennett and Lee had little difference. In 2012, Tea Party organizations like FreedomWorks would like to see the same happen to Sen. Hatch. However, looking strictly at the issue of abortion, ousting Hatch may not be in the pro-life movement’s best interest considering his influence on the Senate Judiciary Committee and his fervent support for legislation against abortion.